I’m all good with doing squats or lunges or any other workout move that takes place on the floor, but the second an instructor puts the word “jump” before a move I roll my eyes and sigh with utter frustration. I hate jumping in workouts, because it’s so. Freaking. Hard. But it’s also good for your body, especially if you’re working on your strength (ugh).
Know that trainers aren’t just trying to torture you when they make you jump—it’s truly about building up your body’s power. “The purpose of jumping in workouts is to engage a large muscle mass to burn calories,” explains Jason Karp, PhD, author and coach and chief running officer of Run-Fit. “Landing from a jump is demanding and includes a lot of force, so it increases your muscle power.”
So yeah, though you may feel like you’re truly dying while doing a burpee or a box jump, you’re not alone—people just don’t jump in real life, so your muscles aren’t naturally built to have to do it all the time. “Jumping feels so hard because of the large muscle forces—landing from a jump puts a lot of stress on the muscles and joints,” says Dr. Karp. “Even landing when running uses two to three times body weight, so jumping equals even greater than three times your body weight when landing. Most people don’t have strong, powerful muscles because they haven’t trained their muscles to be that strong and powerful.”
I also asked celebrity trainer Amanda Kloots, who’s built workouts based off of jumping (if you haven’t yet, try her jump rope workout), about the dreaded but effective practice. “I think that any jumping move is difficult because it involves you to use enough energy to get yourself off of the ground,” she says. “You have to use some of the largest muscles in your body to physically lift your feet up and down, whereas if you’re on a bike or an elliptical machine, you’re stationary and don’t need the same amount of power to lift and move your body.” Hence the “ouch” factor.
At the same time, jumping moves are also some of the most modified—with good reason. “People who have specific knee injuries shouldn’t do jumping moves,” says Dr. Karp. If you’re on team jump, though, the good news is that Kloots says it gets easier over time. “Your endurance and stamina will build up,” she says. Until then, you may not exactly be jumping for joy, but know that you’re not the only one suffering.
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